Saturday, September 19, 2020

The broken windows of our lives

Update: September 19, 2020

Every once in a while a post from some time ago, pops up again as did this one.

In this time of COVID-19, it's an interesting reminder of how important little things are. So many people are acting as if it doesn't matter if we wear a mask and avoid crowded conditions, especially those that involve shouting, cheering, and singing. It does matter. Our actions matter. Our choices matter. ***

  It doesn’t matter 
if I forget to make
my bed,
     I’m just going 
     to sleep in it 
     again tonight.
It doesn’t matter 
if I eat that last 
piece of pie,
     it’s small and 
     it was so good.
 It doesn’t matter if I miss yoga class,
     they won’t miss me.
 It doesn’t matter if I don’t make that call,
     she’s probably busy any way.
It doesn’t matter if I don’t create art today,
    no one will notice or care.
It doesn’t matter if I don’t write that poem,
     few people like poetry anyway.
It doesn’t matter if I don’t vote today,
     everyone knows who’s going to win.

There is a theory of broken windows that says little things matter. People see other people getting away with minor crimes and they think they will also. They see broken windows in a building and assume no one cares, that it’s okay to break more or take that interesting bit of decoration. The first tagger who spray paints his name on a billboard opens the door to others.

Thinking about this concept made me wonder about the broken windows in my life. What are they and what effect do they have?
Obviously, little things matter. If I don’t make my bed in the morning, I have a tendency to throw things on top of it and soon it’s a looming mess. Eating that last piece of pie is sort of like a broken window ... if I can eat that, I can also order fries instead of salad, and oh those mocha lattes! Maybe no one will miss me at yoga class, but my body knows and after awhile, it tells me about it.

They're small things those
Unmade beds,  
unwritten poems,
unplanted flowers,
unexpressed love,
uncreated art, 
and uncast votes ...
They may each seem as if they don’t matter,
but they all add up to a life unlived.

Everything matters.
Every breath we take, 
Each decision we make,
All the lessons we learn ...
I … you … he … she … we ...
Every one of us matters.

Everything matters.
Earth, air, water, sunflowers, frogs, fungi,
even chiggers and bacteria,
every micro nit beneath our view,
all the stars, black holes and universes
beyond our scope,
Every thing matters. 
(c) Copyright, Joyce Wycoff, 2017


  1. I agree, everything *does* matter.

    The question that comes up for me, is which one to choose.

    Sometimes not making the bed is a better choice (leads to a more desirable outcome) than missing the bus. So which one do I choose?

    Or sometimes choosing to forgive, matters more than proving that I am right. So which one do I choose?

    It depends. It depends on how I view the likely consequences of each. And how much I care.

    Although everything matters, I still have to choose.

  2. I stopped worrying about what I eat and if I eat that piece of pie five years ago when I turned 70. Amazingly, I have not gained a pound. The idea of not denying myself after all the years of worrying about that has been a great gift to myself.

  3. Good for you, Barbara. I don't deny myself but I have had to understand my metabolism and act accordingly. All is good. ;-)

  4. Beautifully written and expressed...thank you for sharing Joyce...

  5. Joyce, I enjoy your poem, and I am in the process of publishing some of my poetry. Do you follow specific poetry rules?

  6. Hi, Marta. I don't follow any rules. I tried for awhile to publish poetry and didn't have much luck (other when I publish it myself!) and decided to just do it my way. Best wishes with yours and would love to hear how it goes.